November is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes mellitus affects approximately 30 million people in the United States. Of those 30 million people, 60-70% will be affected with some sort of nerve damage, such as neuropathy. Fifteen percent of people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus will develop a foot ulcer. Unfortunately, 24% of those who develop an ulcer will require amputation of the affected leg. The complications of this disease may seem insignificant when diagnosed but can progress to affect nearly every part of your body over time.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that causes irregular and elevated blood sugar. This occurs due to the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin. This insulin hormone helps the body manage blood sugar levels. Chronically elevated blood sugar causes damage to blood vessels, nerves, skin, and many other organ systems in the body. Your legs and feet are a common starting point for diabetes mellitus to begin showing complications of the disease.
Here are some helpful tips to keep your feet happy and healthy at home if you are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
Inspect your feet daily – Look for color and temperature changes, swelling, or sensational changes. It is important to note hot spots due to friction or any cracks, sores, blisters or ulcers. If a sore or ulcer is present document any changes in size, drainage and odor. If you notice any of these changes, inform your podiatrist.
Avoid barefoot walking – It is important to protect your feet when outdoors and even indoors. Always wear shoes with socks, make sure shoes fit properly, and inspect shoes for foreign objects.
Use lotions or creams – If feet are dry, adding lotions or creams can prevent fissuring or cracking. Do not apply lotion between toes to prevent an environment that harbors infection.
Don’t treat wounds, corns, or calluses yourself unless directed by your podiatrist. Since diabetes compromises wound healing and increases the risk of infection, it is vital for your podiatrist to treat any wounds, corns, or calluses on your feet.
Diabetes Mellitus, though appearing subtle, can have a significant toll on one’s health. Through proper management and good blood sugar control, complications can be minimized. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus or experience any changes in your foot health, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.